Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Different View of Hospitality

I truly enjoy the opportunity to practice self reflection which, I realize, can take many forms. Some people meditate, others chant, some pray and I run. Today, while at church, I recognized that running has been the greatest form of hospitality I have given myself. My church, which I lovingly call the hippy church, has been focused on hospitality this month which has been interesting on many levels. I view hospitality so very differently that many. I practice hospitality as most humans do by opening my front door and welcoming anyone to join me in conversation, for a place to crash for a night (or five) or to sit around the dining table with me.

On the other hand I view spending time with supportive people and always being myself as a way of providing me a form of hospitality; I am talking about the people I can talk to without limit, the people who I can be comfortably silent with, fall asleep with while watching a movie in my home (rather than trying to stay awake to entertain), people I can spend time and people I can run with.

By allowing myself to embrace athleticism I have found something that I consider one of the fundamental pillars that hold up the structure of my 'self'. I have opened a door to something that I viewed as a limiting but in return found something that is limitless. As I reflect on the fears I talked about last week I recognize the true power in the hospitality I have provided myself through running. Sharing those fears with all of you and listening to what some of my readers have shared with me allowed me to understand what might impact me in the future or hold me back as I begin to strive toward future goals.

I guess what I am saying, although with little eloquence, is that I have never really thought about the necessity of offering myself some of my own hospitality, perhaps because I am already doing it. I think I have running, in part, to thank for that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Biggest Fear

Last week I disclosed that fears often hold me back from achieving my dreams. I also expressed my interest in tackling my dreams without regard to fear. I am going to start talking about and expressing my biggest fear now so as to rally as much support as possible! In one month from today I will be celebrating my completion of the marathon. I am guessing I will still be on cloud nine two days after the marathon but my fear is that I will forget to encapsulate the amazing accomplishment and lose my drive.

This song kind of mirrors my fear of losing running:

Being a person who struggled with finding the 'right' thing I recognize that losing running, because of the pure joy it provides me, is my biggest fear. I find hilarity in the fact that I have already decided I am going to run another marathon (or two) next year seeing as a 10k was only in my sights for the first time two years ago; however I am the queen of the exercise sabbatical. This is the year that I am going to retire exercise sabbaticals with the support of my readers and friends. I need to shed myself of the fear that I am not 'meant' to be a runner.

I am sitting here listening to Home by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros. Without going into too many details I can say there are certain people, places, animals and things that I can substitute for 'you' in the song that make me feel at home; running is one of those things! Please tell me to read my blog if you see me slipping...

Here is the song for your listening pleasure:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mind Games

I lived in Boulder Colorado for four years while I was studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During my time in Colorado I fell in love with the mountains, skiing, hiking, the dry air, moderate winters and gloriously sunny summers. I never went 'home' to Chicago over the summers but instead stayed in Colorado so I could take summer classes and be around my nephews at the time. I always had the desire to be an athlete while living in Boulder but never the drive.

About six months ago I started planning a vacation to Colorado centered around a 50 mile bike ride in the foothills of Boulder and of course to visit my brother. What really happened amazed me. I started my journey driving out to Colorado from Columbus Ohio, logging some decent runs along the way. I had extreme trepidation as I began pondering the 20 mile training run that was scheduled for September 10, 2011, just one day prior to the Buffalo classic.

My brother informed me that he took Friday off from work so that he could ride Vail Pass with my cousin and a friend who came to town for the Buffalo Classic. I am not going to lie, I was less than pleased because I had this 20 mile run looming on Saturday and the 50 mile ride on Sunday; all I wanted to do was log some hikes, go site seeing and be around some people I don't see very often but love dearly. Seriously, why would I ride 9 miles uphill at what is extreme altitude when I have other events/training goals? I simply said that I wasn't going to do it...

3 miles up Vail Pass
As I began planning my week I decided that I would run on Wednesday to try and get acclimated to the altitude and then attempt my 20 miles on Thursday so I could spend as much time with my people as possible. What happened next amazed me! Wednesday I ran around a lake a couple of times logging 5 very easy miles. On Thursday morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach, got dressed, left my friends house and headed to the South Platt trail in Denver. I started running and I just kept going, I seriously felt like Forrest Gump (this is where you are supposed to laugh)! At about 9 miles south of my starting point I turned around and headed back to Denver. I ran as if I were at Columbus altitude. I admittedly had to walk up a lot of hills so as not to destroy my knees, I also had to walk mile 17 and 18 because I ran out of water but the reality is I finished 18 miles at altitude. I felt untouchable, grateful, accomplished, proud; you name it, that was how I felt.

On Friday morning, as we were loading the car for Vail Pass and other mountain adventures I told my cousin to throw my bike in the car, I put on my cycling gear and much to my surprise decided to attempt Vail Pass. I did not 'summit' the pass but I did something I never knew possible. I rode 4 miles uphill and never blinked an eye. I decided to turn around, not because I was particularly tired or thought I couldn't do it but instead because I wanted to save my body for the remainder of the trip.

Getting ready for the 50 mile ride
On Sunday I headed out from my Alma Mater to ride 50 miles. Not only did I finish the ride but I completed the ride with a smile on my face, riding up the same hill I found every excuse to drive up when I lived in Boulder. I fell once, saw some interesting cycling outfits along the way, encountered people who were encouraging (and less so) and enjoyed outstanding views of the Rockies!

I was recently talking with a friend about how we wish we had discovered our love for running many years ago because we would have a better base at this point and we couldn't imagine the type of mileage we may have logged at this point in our lives. Reflecting back some years and relating it to this week has been especially telling. I realize that if I always let my mind win I may not have had these experiences. My mind has limited me in the past using excuses such as the human body is not meant to run a marathon (while deep down I want to run a marathon), riding on highway 36 in Boulder is stupid and dangerous (well it is dangerous but I still did it), running at altitude for this flatlander is not wise (but I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life), riding Vail Pass is only for the elite (I did make it 4 miles up, which may not seem like much but is something I would have never tried in the past).

Picture from the hike
The point is in the text somewhere but to summarize, I have discovered that my mind has limited me in the past and I believe that limit was fear. I have to say though, I am happy and grateful for how this journey took shape in my life. I used to live with a fear that I could not run the three miles, could not cross the finish line, could not accomplish lofty goals but this week has made me realize anything is possible. I will no longer live in fear or allow my mind games to set my limits, only my dreams will define my limits!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Giving the Gift Of...

I have received many gifts in my lifetime. I remember my first cabbage patch doll, the trumpet my dad brought home from work after Christmas, the scooter I received for my first communion, the scarves people have made for me and the list goes on.

I also remember the gifts of time. There is nothing I value more than the time I spend with people. I believe my parents instilled in me the importance of time. When I hated reading in sixth grade, my mom would sit with me and read, page by page, the Call of the Wild. This was a gift!

Over the last few years I have deeply embraced cycling, swimming and running. Running has definitely become my favorite sport and I have been trying to figure out why. For me it was the most challenging to embrace but has probably been the most rewarding. I honestly can't remember how I was initially introduced to running. It must have been the exercise bully, otherwise known as my oldest sister.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is a new cyclist. During this conversation I was telling her that I would rather learn from someone who is clumsy and passionate than someone who is great at or knowledgeable about said topic but totally disengaged. The reason we were even talking about learning opportunities was because I was bubbling with joy over my new found love of running. My cyclist friend told me that she would come to me, even though I am slow and newish to running, if she ever wanted to become a runner. I had to think about this for awhile and now realize this was the biggest complement someone could give me.

If you have had a conversation with me about running recently, you know that I can be found saying, dramatically, "I love giving the gift of running!!!" The truth is that when you spend time with someone and share your enthusiasm or passion for your new hobby, ideology, sport and the list goes on, you are giving the gift of...

For the record, I am not devaluing any of the material gifts that have been given to me over time but instead acknowledging shared passion and enthusiasm as valued gifts!!! Thank you to the people who gave me the gift of running!